These are rehearsed readings with talented actors and directors featuring the work of established and new playwrights. The series is seen as an opportunity for the writers to see hear their brand new work in a professional setting, with an audience.
I went last night to see A Perfectly Fine Life written by Annie Pierce, and I believe this was her first ever play.
There was a very crude ‘set’ (a few chairs and tables and a couple of props), a little lighting and the actors, although obviously familiar with the piece, were reading from their scripts. They did get up, and move through the different scenes. A narrator gave some indications of scene or time passing that would obviously have been worked out for a final production.
However, it was surprising that after a while, I simply didn’t notice these facts. The story was indeed so gripping, and the actors barely stumbled that the fact that the scripts that they were reading from became almost invisible.
From the blurb:
“Zinnia can’t have the baby she wants. Elizabeth offers to be a surrogate mother. And lawyer Anwen does her best to handle everyone’s interests. But when things do not turn out as expected,what is it like to depend on a stranger for what you want most?”
I loved the story, and I really felt for all the characters in what becomes a very difficult situation – and wasn’t at all what I was expecting. Each of the four main characters – successful couple Zinnia & David who desperately want a baby, and Ghanaian couple Elizabeth & Jacob who initially want to be able to give their children a better life with the money that they can make from Elizabeth’s surrogacy.
Social issues and prejudices weren’t tip-toed around – they were confronted head-on, realistically, even though that may not have been particularly comfortable to witness in some parts. I guess the only part that I was slightly disappointed with was the ending. It confused me slightly but also felt a little twee in comparison to the rest of the play.
I’m just sorry that I only just now knew about the PlayWROUGHT series, just as it’s coming to an end again for the year. I will be looking out for it next year for definite. A fantastic idea that attracted a surprisingly large audience and was fantastically presented.
I hope that Annie Pierce got some great feedback from it – and if I ever notice A Perfectly Fine Life on at a London theatre, I will be sure to go along to see how it translates to a ‘proper’ stage!
I’d also like to say that I haven’t been to the Arcola since March 2012 to see The Pitchfork Disney, and they’ve done a LOT of work to it since then – it’s a really nice space. Especially the bar where this week they started serving hot food. A big bowl of veg stew, arancini balls, tasty salads and various condiments (you have the choice of everything, some or nothing – no menu) that totally hit the spot for just £5. Well worth a visit!